Home » Repatriation


Repatriation Following a Death

Repatriation following a death is the process of returning someones body (or ashes) to the United Kingdom after (s)he has died in a foreign country.

Repatriation can be an incredibly confusing process as you must work within different countries and different languages but there are supports in place to help you bring your loved one home. In fact, in the event of repatriation following a death, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK and the British Consul in the area of the death will both be able to help you navigate the process.

Dealing with a Death Abroad

If you were traveling with the deceased, you will be involved in the process of repatriation and will most likely be the person to take charge of the body.

If you are on a tour or package holiday, a representative of the company will most likely contact the relevant authorities, including the British Consulate, for you. The British Consulate, in turn, will be able to walk you through the practical aspects of repatriation including working with local authorities, contacting funeral directors and funeral homes, and booking transportation home for both you and the body of the deceased.

An important part of working with local authorities will be to register the death in the country where your loved one died. This means that a death certificate from that country will be issued and may need to be translated into English. The British Consulate should be able to help you with registering the death and any translation or certification services you may need. You may also be able to register the death with the British Consulate and have a UK death certificate issued as well. This means that a record will be made for your loved one in the General Registry Office (GRO) Overseas Registration section. To register the death you will need the deceased’s full name, birth date, passport information (including when and where it was issued and the passport number), and information on next of kin. However, this may not be done in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa or Zimbabwe.

Returning Home with the Deceased

Returning home with the body of the deceased will require having it embalmed and then secured in a zinc-lined coffin. The British Consulate should be able to put you in touch with funeral directors in the country who will be able to prepare the body in this way. You will also need to carry a certified English translate of the death certificate, written authorisation from local authorities to remove the body, and a certificate of embalming. The cost of repatriating the body may be covered by one of your insurance plans, but if it is not then you will not cover the cost yourself. Depending on the circumstances of the deceased’s estate, these costs may be reimbursed later.

Once you arrive home with the deceased, you will need to arrange for a funeral within the United Kingdom. To do this you will need to bring the certified English translation of the death certificate to the registered office or registrar in the area in which you hope to hold the funeral. Formal certificates will then be issued by this office and the funeral will be able to proceed.

Cremation Aborad

You may choose to conduct the funeral and cremation abroad if you lived in the country or logistically it is easier. Returning home with the ashes of your loved one is easier than arranging for the body to be flown back. Again, the British Consulate and foreign embassies in the country of death will be able to help and advise funeral directors to help you do this.

Transporting Ashes Overseas

When it comes to transporting ashes overseas, as long as you have the correct paperwork you are free to take ashes onto a plane in most countries around the world. You will need documentation of proof of death and also a cremation. There are services that will facilitate the transport of ashes for you, handling all of the documents and transport if you do not wish to carry them yourself or if you are sending them to a third party.

Repatriation following a death is a confusing, emotional process. In the UK the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can offer more information on repatriating a body, while the British Consulate in the location of the death will also be helpful in arranging for your loved one to return home.

10 thoughts on “Repatriation”

  1. We can’t get travel insurance because we are in Greece and I am 60. We wondered what sort of costs we’d have to bear for a number of things – can anyone give a rough figure for repatriating a body from Greece to UK?

  2. My father in law died after a short illness while on holiday in Zante. Neither the British Consulate nor the FCO were of any practical use whatsoever. The whole process was nightmarish. What sort of assistance should we have expected? Thank you.

  3. @Nic. The British consulation and Foreign office should at least show you how you can register the death and help to transfer any funds to pay for costs etc. They should also tell you how much it will cost to transport the deceased back to the UK (but will not arrange this for you it seems). Sometimes your travel insurance company will be of more practical assistance…
    Here is a list of what the British consulate say they will do if there is a death abroad:
    “Keep the next of kin informed and try to ensure you don’t feel that you are on your own
    Tell you the cost of local burial, local cremation and transportion of the body and personal belongings back to the UK
    Provide a list of local and international funeral directors (see note 1). If an English speaking firm is not available, our staff can help you with the arrangements
    Help transfer money from friends and relatives in the UK to pay any necessary costs. “

  4. My father died in hospital after a failed operation in mid November 2015. Eight weeks later I lost my dear sweet beloved cherished younger sister, MY PAL her death was almost sudden and she died in hospital, January 2016. Ten weeks later, my mother died in the care home where she was kept a prisoner against her will. That was two years ago and I am still feeling the OVERWHELMING PAIN that accompanies my complicated grief. No words in this universe can describe how I am feeling, the pain is extremely excruciating. All of a sudden, I had a WONDERFUL family, then they were ALL gone. My sister was my PAL, my BEST FRIEND and I am totally DEVASTATED. I have been thrust into ISOLATION, no choice but to live live a hermit. I have one other surviving sister who has never lived at home and she too is dying, I discovered earlier this year of her ill health. I never knew my father’s family and my mother’s family were USELESS at the time of my family’s deaths. They actually made some VERY BIZARRE excuses NOT to help me; like when I phoned one of them, I got “I have to go now someone is knocking on the door.” Another excuse was “I am going to a St. Valentines meal.” Another excuse was “I can’t help you” another excuse was “I have seen no letter” another excuse was COMPLETE IGNORANCE and the last excuse was “I have my daughter to look after.” The daughter by the way is an ADULT. I have never been son let down in all of my life. I have never felt so bad and so insulted. The same people gatecrashed my sister’s funeral to laugh and enjoy themselves in the cemetery. They are the MOST DISGUSTING family that I have ever known. I have no friends and nobody to support me and I have NEVER been alone in all of my life, but I am now, VERY ALONE and living like a hermit through no choice of my own.

  5. Hi Mirandaace, Your story has really touched me and I cannot say I know how you feel but I have experienced the death of loved ones too and it really is a painful thing. People, I have found can do and say very hurtful things which can really take us aback. I have also been in that place of loneliness, that place of complete aloneness- a zone of empty! I know what that is like. I want to encourage you my dear, there’s a great peace in knowing how valuable you are to God. He loves you no matter what you may be going though. People will always let you down but when you call and ask God for help, he never disappoints. He takes every pain away. All you need to do is ask him to fill every void in your life and he will do it. My prayers and thoughts are with you. Don’t give up no matter what. Remember you are valuable. ????

Comments are closed.